Silencing, Epistemic Injustice, and Epistemic Paternalism

In Amiel Bernal & Guy Axtell (eds.), Epistemic Paternalism Reconsidered: Conceptions, Justifications and Implications. Rowman & LIttlefield (forthcoming)

Jonathan Matheson
University of North Florida
Valerie Joly Chock
University of North Florida
Members of oppressed groups are often silenced. One form of silencing is what Kristie Dotson calls “testimonial smothering”. Testimonial smothering occurs when a speaker limits her testimony in virtue of the reasonable risk of it being misunderstood or misapplied by the audience. Testimonial smothering is thus a form of epistemic paternalism since the speaker is interfering with the audience’s inquiry for their benefit without first consulting them. In this paper, we explore the connections between epistemic injustice and epistemic paternalism through the phenomenon of silencing. We argue that when you silence your testimony as a result of epistemic injustice it is an act of epistemic paternalism and that it is epistemically permissible. In fact, self-silencing resulting from epistemic injustice is a particularly clear example of permissible epistemic paternalism.
Keywords Epistemic Injustice  Epistemic Paternalism  Silencing
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